IN DE­CEM­BER

It’s been a year since Nh­lanhla Nene was axed as fi­nance min­is­ter. The seis­mic four days that fol­lowed laid bare a new trend in cor­rup­tion: state cap­ture. 2016 has been the year of state cap­ture, where pri­vate in­ter­ests be­gan to sub­sume pub­lic power. The

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De­cem­ber 9 2015 is a typical govern­ment Wed­nes­day to­wards the end of the year – it’s balmy and hol­i­days beckon. A Cabi­net meet­ing is held to tie up loose ends. On top of the usual list of high govern­ment busi­ness is the an­nounce­ment that South Africa will pur­sue nu­clear power, but sub­ject to af­ford­abil­ity and fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies. It is a pre-Christ­mas com­pro­mise be­tween those who want full nu­clear and those who think the spend will bank­rupt the coun­try.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene is present at the meet­ing, which stretches into the early af­ter­noon. He leaves with his col­leagues from Cabi­net. It is, to all in­tents and pur­poses, a nor­mal Cabi­net meet­ing.

At 5.15pm, a se­nior of­fi­cial in the Trea­sury’s phone beeps. A What­sApp mes­sage: The pres­i­dency is look­ing for Nene. At 18h10, an­other mes­sage: The pres­i­dency is look­ing for deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas.

Two hours later, Nene is his­tory. Jonas is act­ing min­is­ter. Later, Jonas would re­veal that Nene’s ax­ing was no sur­prise to him as he had been of­fered his prin­ci­pal’s job for R600 000 cash and R600 mil­lion more to be paid, if he did as Ajay Gupta – the fam­ily pa­tri­arch at the cen­tre of what hap­pened in De­cem­ber last year – told him.

Anec­dotes say that as he sat out­side Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma’s of­fice, Nene saw Zuma’s chief of staff, Lakela Kaunda, pre­pare the me­dia state­ment in­form­ing the pub­lic of his re­moval. Nene had heard ru­mours of his end and was not shocked.

Nene is re­placed by a min­is­ter whose first name is un­clear to an in­cred­u­lous na­tion when the news breaks later that Wed­nes­day evening. Is he David, Des­mond or Des van Rooyen?

It’s Des, says a par­lia­men­tary back­bencher who was mayor of the Mer­a­fong mu­nic­i­pal­ity when it went up in flames and ig­nited a na­tional bound­ary cri­sis as res­i­dents re­fused in­cor­po­ra­tion into North West. Now it’s the mar­kets that are in flames in parts of the world where they are still open and the rand tanks on the news of the putsch of Nene.

‘WE’VE TAKEN CHARGE’

To un­der­stand state cap­ture, it is nec­es­sary to go back to an email of 2015, em­a­nat­ing from the ad­dress of Dudu Myeni, which al­leges a mas­sive white con­spir­acy hatched by apartheid busi­ness barons like the Ru­pert and Op­pen­heimer fam­i­lies, who have al­legedly taken over Na­tional Trea­sury

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